The following is a review of five selected billboard advertisements. Some of the advertisements have been chosen from award-winning ads located in the archives of adsoftheworld.com; others were from adform.com. Click on each ad link below or scroll down to review the analysis of each ad. If you desire to review the advertisement more closely, click on the ad image itself to see a larger version.
Advertisement 1: ClearWay – Minnesota, We All Pay the Price
Advertisement 2: BevMo!, Buy Responsibly
Advertisement 3: Gold Toe, Invisible People: See the World
Advertisement 4: Chick-Fil-A, Beef Puts U 2 Sleep
Advertisement 5: Robbins Diamonds, She’s Tired of Waiting
“We All Pay The Price”
The billboard for ClearWay – Minnesota carries an anti-smoking message.It shows a background photo of a young adult female smoking a cigarette behind eight 3-dimensional vertical cigarettes that resemble bars of a jail cell. An URL for ClearWay’s promotional website shown between the “bars” on the far right of the billboard. It was part of a multi-media campaign which included billboards and video advertisements.
The billboard stimulates curiosity with the use of its imagery. The message is not immediately clear, and the viewer would have to be interested enough to visit the website to learn more.
The purpose of the billboard is to capture the audience’s attention quickly and suggest that smoking confines and harms everyone, not just the smoker’s themselves. The message is that everyone pays the price of smoking–smokers and non-smokers–in the state of Minnesota through the increased costs of healthcare. And those higher costs divert money from other services that might benefit a larger population.
It is unclear from research into Minnesota’s whether this billboard was active in contributing to the reduction in tobacco use within the state.
The target market appears to be teens, and young adults consider the photo of a young woman used in the billboard’s background. A secondary market might be parents of teens, and a tertiary marketed might anyone who is curious about the meaning behind the billboard’s visual imagery.
Call to Action:
The presence of an URL suggests the call to action is “visit the website” to learn more. The site is no longer active; however, the organization’s website (http://clearwaymn.org/tobaccos-harm/cost-of-smoking-in-minnesota/) carries information about the cost of smoking in Minnesota that might have been similar to what was used.
Cigarettes take away your freedom. Smoking creates barriers for all of us.
“Buy Responsibly” is part of a multi-board campaign for discount beverage retailer, BeMo! The billboard carries the headline “Buy Responsibly” along with a photo a stemless glass of red wine and draws a connection to the “Drink Responsibly” advertisements or messages seen on alcohol. The second line and message on the billboard are “Don’t pay too much for wine.” A BevMo! logo sits below the wine glass.
The advertisement may trigger wonder as it relates to the “Drink Responsibly” message often associated with alcohol. A simultaneous or subsequent emotion may be humor as the message settles in with the viewer.
The billboard goal is to increase sales of products by carrying the message that BevMo provides the best prices for wine. Given that BevMo is a private company, it is unknown as to whether the billboard generated increased sales for the company. It is likely to have made a solid connection with its target market
Given the wine glass and the copy on the board, the target market for the billboard is likely wine drinkers, age 21+.
Call to Action:
The call to action is to buy wine from BevMo!
If you’re not buying wine from BevMo!, you’re paying too much.
“Invisible People: See the World”
The billboard for Gold Toe showcases a pair of socks resting on a car dashboard as the car is driving through snow-covered mountains. There are no legs associated with the socks. The headline is, “Set your socks on seeing the world” and features the Gold Toe Socks logo. The billboard is one in a campaign series for GoldToe.
The advertisement evokes surprise and humor. Nearly everyone has witnessed someone or been guilty themselves of propping feet on the car dashboard on a long trip.
The billboard’s goal is to increase sales and by suggesting that GoldToe has the most comfortable socks for traveling. Moreover, Gold Toe has been in business since 1934 and has a history of making a quality work sock as is suggested by their website. More adventuresome imagery and sock patterns might also suggest that Gold Toe desires to capture a new market for its product.
Also, using an everyday situation of car travel, Gold Toe also suggests that it’s socks are not limited to travel or adventure, but also can be worn whenever one desires comfort. The invisible person in the billboard allows the viewer easily imagine themselves wearing the socks.
The target market appears to be anyone who wears socks. Considering that “feet on the dashboard” tends to be something younger people do, one might argue that the billboard further targets the Millenial Generation. The headline, “Set your socks on seeing the world” encourages and relates to those who seek adventure and might support the new market argument made above.
Call to Action:
The billboard’s call to action is subtle. It suggests the viewer get Gold Toe socks for the next trip.
There’s no better sock for traveling than Gold Toe. Let your socks take an adventure, and make sure you’re feet (legs, and body) go with them.
“Beef Puts U 2 Sleep”
The billboard is one in an ongoing series of advertisements from Chick-Fil-A featuring self-preserving cows encouraging the viewer to eat chicken and not beef. This billboard, Beef Puts U 2 Sleep, features the “cow-lettered” phrase “Beef Puts U 2 Sleep” on the billboard background, along with three, life-like, sleeping Holstein Cows sleeping on the billboard deck–one is even on top of the billboard. The advertisement suggests the cows were painting the billboard and fell asleep. The Chick-Fil-A logo is prominent on the board.
The billboard uses humor to connect with the viewer.
The billboard’s goal is to sell more chicken for Chick-Fil-A by suggesting that eating beef makes one sluggish and tired, while presumably eating chicken does not. The billboard’s objective is also to reinforce the brand message and sustain top-of-mind awareness for Chick-Fil-A through humor even when the viewer is not in need of food.
Given Chick-Fil-A’s apparent popularity, it would appear the billboards achieve this goal.
The primary target market for this billboard is presumably travelers who are in need of food. A secondary market is anyone who eats chicken, or at least not beef.
Call to Action:
The call to action is to eat more chicken. Specifically, chicken from Chick-Fil-A.
Chicken’s better for you than beef. Or so say the cows.
“She’s Tired of Waiting”
She’s Tired of Waiting is a billboard for Robbins Diamonds, a Newark Delaware jewelry store. It features a slightly out-of-focus photograph of a woman holding up her ring finger with the headline, “She’s tired of waiting.” Robbins Diamonds logo and the company website is also on the board.
This advertisement evokes surprise as at first glance it looks like the woman in the ad is holding up her middle finger. The surprise transitions into humor as the viewer realizes it is the ring finger that is being prominently displayed.
The aim of advertisement is to sell more products, particularly engagement rings.
The target market appears to be men of marrying age who are dragging their feet in proposing to their girlfriends.
Call to Action:
The call to action is to visit Robbins Diamonds to purchase an engagement ring.
Stop wasting time. Robbins Diamonds can keep her from dumping you.
Featured Image Source: Getty Images, H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock
David Harkins is a serial entrepreneur with significant experience in branding, strategy, licensing and marketing.
In his spare time, he consults, coaches, speaks, writes, hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.
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